Best New Releases, April 21: Everything But the Girl, Portrayal of Guilt, and more
This week’s list of new releases looked, at least initially, a little more concise than some of the overwhelming prior weeks this month, but that turned out not to be the case. And even if it weren’t, it’d still be the day that a new album from Everything But the Girl—their first in 24 years—was finally released. In addition to that, there’s some lo-fi exotica pop, some horror-film screamo, effects-laden psychedelia and “death folk country.” Here are this week’s best new releases.
Everything But the Girl – Fuse
The existence of Everything But the Girl’s Fuse is noteworthy on its own. The band’s last album Temperamental was released more than two decades ago, and it seemed likely that their extended hiatus afterward would extend indefinitely. But the group’s first new album since 1999 isn’t worth hearing simply because it exists, but rather because it’s a stunning set of songs. In one sense it feels strongly connected to the material that Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt released in the ’90s, steeped in downtempo electronic arrangements, but it also feels very of-the-moment, with songs like the beat-laden “Nothing Left to Lose” and the haunting and spare “Run a Red Light” among some of their best art-pop songs to date. We’ll have more on this one next week.
Listen/Buy: Spotify | Merchbar (vinyl)
Dorthia Cottrell – Death Folk Country
Dorthia Cottrell, vocalist in Richmond doom metal outfit Windhand, released her debut self-titled solo album eight years ago, and it’s taken her a while to return to the folk sound she crafted on that album. But with her follow-up, she fleshes out the arrangements even more, backing her haunting melodies on Death Folk Country (which is a pretty accurate genre for these songs) with eerie atmospheric elements, chimes, organ, drones and even occasional eruptions of electric guitar riffs, as on “Midnight Boy.” Where Cottrell proved her songs mesmerizing enough to stand on their own before, here they have a little more meat on their bones, and a few more ghosts passing through their corridors.
Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)
Portrayal of Guilt – Devil Music
When Portrayal of Guilt announced the release of their new album Devil Music, they released the entire second side as a short film, which, instead of being an onslaught of the group’s bloodthirsty post-hardcore and screamo, comprised orchestral arrangements along with Matt King’s screamed vocals. Suffice it to say, this one’s a little different. At least half of it is; the first half is exactly the searing, abrasive rippers we’ve come to expect from the group. In our review of the album, Tom Morgan said, “for those who like transgression and experimentation mixed in with their heaviness, PoG have such delights to show you.”
Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)
Monde UFO – Vandalized Statue to Be Replaced With Shrine
Los Angeles’ Monde UFO is a group that seems to fold time itself with their merging of eras and styles that seemingly wouldn’t intersect. There’s a lo-fi new wave sensibility that recalls great obscure minimal synth artists like Antena, Solid Space and Pale Cocoon, but with a heavy influence from bossa nova and exotica, the end result being something like Stereolab making lo-fi demos after a Sun Ra bender. Their songs are richly layered but always carry a kind of warm, lived-in quality, and with surprises emerging with every track, not the least of which being their cover of Fugazi deep cut “I’m So Tired.” It’s space age pop music for whatever space you might find yourself in.
Dommengang – Wished Eye
Like guitars—loud ones? Then Dommengang is the band for you. The Portland trio play a bluesy, heavily fuzzed-out take on psychedelic rock that’s often at its best when it feels like it’s massive enough to consume the listener, like on Wished Eye highlight “Society Blues.” But there’s a lot of beauty in what they do as well. Frequently traveling between points on the spectrum between Floyd’s most melodic moments and Comets on Fire’s wildest freakouts, Dommengang employ groove and space as much as they do the noisier aspects of their sound, all of which is driven by the deeply satisfying sound of their guitars.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.